What is the Role of a Cocker Spaniel During the Hunting

American cocker spaniel hunting breeders


A Cocker and the other flushing spaniels originated in the 19th century from the dogs also known as ‘field spaniels’.

A very interesting fact: the smallest puppies in the litter became ‘cockers’ because they chased a bird known as woodcock. The hunters needed a small compact dog to go through brambles and other bushes.

The introduction of the Cocker Spaniel gave the hunters an opportunity to flush those birds in the wild.

English cocker spaniel hunting breeders

What is the Role of a Cocker Spaniel During the Hunting?

The primary target of a Cocker Spaniel in a flushing game is to retrieve shot birds (ducks in the most cases) from fields, marshlands and open water. Some hunters use Cocker Spaniels to chase rabbits (a dog should flush out an animal for hunter to fire or drive it).

But Cocker Spaniels are used to hunt rabbits rather seldom (just in a few countries, like Great Britain). Its main role is to work in feather, rather in fur.

How to Start Training?

Recommendation: to start training your puppy for bird retrieving or rabbit driving/carrying, a dog should undergo some basic training. This includes the basic commands for retrieve, recall, stay, sit, and up. These commands are necessary for a good hunting dog.

You should start to sharpen a Cocker Spaniel puppy when it is already 1 month old. Teach your small Cocker in the form of a funny play: make it search, find and fetch its favorite toys. When your Spaniel is 4 months old, start to train it to get toys from the water and immediately bring them to you.

American cocker spaniel for hunting
Be careful! Do not overload a small puppy with training. Training sessions must be short and frequent, and always cheerful and friendly.

Moreover, it is necessary to develop stamina of your puppy. It should spend a lot of time on the fresh air running and playing, thus a puppy will have well developed organs and a strong body. A proper diet also plays a significant role: it should be rich in protein. That is how you can prepare your puppy to real bird hunting training.

When your Cocker puppy is 6 months old, it should know how to walk on the leash (from your left side). The training should be done on a daily basis until the puppy is fully aware of what they are to do for every command.

A Cocker Should Know a Gun Pattern

For a successful hunting, it is necessary for a Cocker Spaniel puppy to know how to stay and work within the perimeter of the gun. Many professional hunters use pigeons to train a puppy to stay in a proper gun area. A Cocker Spaniel needs to learn the pattern of flushing and retrieving within the hunter’s range of shooting.

The most crucial issue is that a Cocker should know how to chase and come back if the bird (rabbit) is out of the gun range. For this, you may use a recall whistle.

Warning! Some professionals advise to use shock collars for dog training (to teach a dog to stop and come back). It is an effective method, but may seem to be too abusive for a dog. However, it is your right to choose.

A Cocker Should Get Used to a Gun

It is not a secret, that a good trained dog should not be scared of loud unexpected sounds, as gun reports. After a Cocker Spaniel hears a gun bang, it should immediately retrieve a bird. It is not easy task to do: you will need to practice and take the dog out with you to become accustomed to the noise of birds and do a shorter chase and then call them back.

Advice: if your dog is still frightening gun reports, it is better to consult with a skillful dog trainer who knows how to train hunting dogs.


We hope that this general information will help you to start training your small puppy for successful flushing games.

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